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Life is unpredictable. One day you think you're set, happy, and ready for the next step (e.g. engagement) with your significant other...

Life is unpredictable.

One day you think you’re set, happy, and ready for the next step (e.g. engagement) with your significant other…

The next day, the aforementioned significant other doesn’t see you as significant in his life and tells you he doesn’t know what he wants.  He says he doesn’t want to get married simply because it was the “next step” or that it is expected of him.  Basically, he admitted that he did not (and was not) ready to grow up because marriage, in his mind, meant growing up.  He was not ready to commit and would not be ready in a few years.  I am not ready to wait a few more years for him to decide that I was not the one for him…because you would think men would know after seven+ years of dating.

As much as I wanted to cling on, to plead him to reconsider his decision, I know there is nothing I can do except to learn from this experience and move on.

Here are a few things I learned about money, power, gender roles, and relationships through (and during) this ordeal:

Don’t be his Mother

As much as I like to think all men are children who need to be taken care of (sorry guys), one of the biggest mistakes I made was acting like his mother.  I was essentially the CEO of the home (or trying to be anyway) by organizing the finances, dealing with the tenants, buying groceries, ensuring dinner was ready, cleaning, and doing small repairs around the home.  Basically I guess I gave off the vibe that he wasn’t needed (which is true, but I guess guys don’t like feeling that way, obviously!).

Don’t Overcompensate

I was overcompensating.  The more pressure I felt to try and please him, ensure that he was fed and happy (or so I thought), the more I overcompensated.  Then the more he undercompensated.  We tried to articulate and define and divide up the household tasks multiple times.  He would sometimes not have these done in a timely manner (or to my standards I suppose) and then I would just go ahead and do them.  Pretty soon I was doing everything again and burning myself out.

I also overcompensated in terms of trying to change myself, trying to change my own behaviour in order to have better conflict resolution skills.  I know that behavior change takes time and effort, but the other person needs to also want to see an improvement in the relationship too, otherwise, you’re just trying to climb out of quicksand by yourself.

You Need to be Whole and not Two Halves

With all the busy-ness of school, work, and house stuff, I was neglecting my own needs.  I did not take the time out to care for myself and to take care of myself and my emotional and mental well-being.  I wasn’t taking care of myself.  Since this ordeal, I have probably been in the best shape physically (and mentally) then I have ever been.  Getting rid of the energy through running and yoga has been liberating and definitely a factor in heartbreak recovery.

You Can’t Have a Timeline

Although it’s tempting to want to control everything, to control your future, and to have a timeline of the next five years planned out… sometimes life throws you a curveball and things happen that are out of your control.  One of the biggest lessons in life, in my opinion, is learning how to cope and deal when things don’t happen the way you always pictured them to happen.

Super Motivated Boyfriends Need to Reach their Goals First

As Financial Samurai wrote in one of my favourite posts on super motivated boyfriends, they have goals (career or financial) they need to achieve before wanting to “settle down”.  This was definitely the case.  We were the same age, he did not achieve his goals yet, and had a few more years before he achieved these goals.  At the end of the day, I don’t think I was ready to continue to want to wait until he achieved these goals because there was no guarantee that he will still be by my side after he achieved these goals.  Mind you, putting a ring on the finger isn’t much of a guarantee either, but I guess its better than nothing?

Values, Values, Values…

As much as there is physical attraction and chemistry, if you have different values of what you want out of life, there may be and will always continue to be clashes.  We did have different viewpoints on many things, namely money.  He wanted a nice car and did not prioritize travel at the top of his list.  I would rather forgo the nice car and continue driving my 12 year old car for life experiences and travel.  I wanted to pay down the mortgage.  He didn’t.

Don’t be Too Frugal with Love

And most painfully, one of the biggest lessons learned is not to be be too frugal with love.  We prioritized school and other friends over each other.  We would save money by not going out, by eating in, watching movies at home.  Things became mundane.  I wanted to go on a weekend getaway but he didn’t because he wanted to save money.  Sometimes when you’re focused on saving money you forget to go out and enjoy what life has to offer.

Well that was cathartic.  😉

Readers, have you ever been heartbroken?  What did you learn from it?

Article comments

Elle says:

Thank you for sharing your personal insights. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I am happy to see that you have gain wisdom from this experience.

Your advice is very handy for all those in relationships (married or not), especially about being whole and not two halves.

Young says:

@Elle- Thanks Elle 🙂 I was really burning myself out… Overcompensating is never good but I think we as women tend to fall into this quite easily.

reader says:

This is my favourite post that you have written. I have often felt that you were very financially savvy for any age, but you are so much younger than me that there was a disconnect. But this is so mature, so insightful. Life will make you wiser in so many things–the trick is to learn from things and not stay mired–which you’re doing! (by contrast, it has taken me much longer to figure out a few things)

So, congratulations, is what I want to say. You have handled this so very well. You know what the right thing is to do and are doing it. You are so much further ahead than most of us.

Young says:

@reader- Awe thank you. I wish I didn’t have to swallow this pill of course, but I guess the main thing about life is that life will throw you a curve ball and the only thing we can do is choose how to react to it. The only thing we can do is control our own thoughts and feelings because we can’t control anything or anybody else 🙂

Shovellicious says:

First of all, I’m sorry it didn’t work out and really big “thank you” for sharing. Seven years it’s really long time and your post made me think about my relationship, especially “values, values, values…”. I haven’t grown up to even start thinking about children but I don’t say “no”. Maybe… One day… In the future… Not now… Having a baby right now would freak me out, I just don’t have this kind of instincts, so it’s good for me that my boyfriend (who’s older six years than me) doesn’t want to have children (it’s not “big no no” to him but he admits he rather doesn’t see himself as a father-anyway, right now). But last time I thought: ” WHAT IF, what if one day I’ll feel that instict and he still won’t see him as a father?” In my previous relationship I was with somebody who wanted to speed up things like engagement, marriage and so on and I was too young and to scared to agree on that, I started running away so I’m really happy to be with somebody who doesn’t put a pressure on me. But WHAT IF one day I’ll be that person who puts a pressure on my partner?

I wish you all the best in 2013! I hope all your dreams will come true and I wish you every personal (and financial) success 😉

qb says:

Hey Young! First of all. Great Blog! Ive been following you for about year. Your situation sounds all too familiar –> Mid October for me. Things get better. With every relationship comes compromise, however when you start to compromise who you are, what you believe in, or your own goals then maybe things are not meant to be. Relationships are tough and letting go is even tougher. Hindsight is easy.

Hope things are going ok!


Koala says:

Sorry to hear things didn’t work out. Lately I’ve had quite a few friends breakup who were living with their SOs.

The New Year is a good time to start fresh though! Best wishes to you in 2013!

Young says:

@Koala- I guess they don’t call it the “7 year itch” for nothing! Thanks for the well wishes 😉

N says:

I’ve been a longtime follower of your amazing blog and was inspired by your words to offer my two cents (for what they’re worth).

This must be a tough time right now, but I really am heartened by your honest, balanced and heartfelt approach to the situation. It was clearly the right thing to do. Being currently in a very similar position (having just gotten out of a serious long-term relationship), I know that the near future will hold plenty of opportunities to showcase wisdom and courage — and you will for SURE be up for the task.

Facing some “unknowns” when life turns upside down is always difficult. My experiences showed me the true value of friendship and how blessed I was to have supportive people in my life; that a failed relationship is not a personal failure at all, but instead can be a reflection of tremendous personal growth; and that, even if there are the daily ups-and-downs, life does go on to get better.

I wish you a new year full of hope, opportunities, and new beginnings. And in case you ever need to hear it: you’re going to be just fine.

Young says:

@N- Thank you so much N for commenting and following and for your introspective and thoughtful comments. As time passes, I’m not looking at this like something I failed at anymore, I’m looking at it as an opportunity for growth and to reflect on what works and doesn’t work in relationships and more importantly, reflect on what is important to me/ my values.

The more I think about him and our relationship, the more I realized that the only thing that was binding us was really physical attraction and nothing much more..

Jay says:

I’m sorry to hear that the relationship didn’t work out, but proud that you have the courage to do what is best for you – not wait for “maybe in a few years..” because as we know, nothing in life is certain.

What a timely post. I’ve been following your blog for 2 years and I think this is the first time I’ve commented. I’m in a VERY similar position (8+ yrs). We bought a house together last year, thinking this is the “next step” (I smiled when you wrote that), and that’s when the doubts started. I’ve been at a cross roads of what to do the last few months, and your post has really inspired me to continue having those crucial conversations. I’m also comforted to know that there are others in the world going through the same thing, and no matter what happens, we should always take care of ourselves first.

Like Little Miss Moneybags said above, time is what helps. Know that you have a supportive community rooting for you to live your best life!

Young says:

@Jay- Awe thank you so much for following and commenting! It’s SOOO important to continue to re-evaluate your values and what you want out of life. I did have thoughts and doubts.. thoughts that maybe I didnt’ want kids… but I think it was more like he wasn’t the right person to have kids with. I was envisioning a life of me working so hard to makes things work and run the household…

Oh, I’m sorry to hear about your broken heart!

My last heartbreak had many of the warning signs that you write about here – I was overcompensating, I was not whole, and we had different values. I learned to respect my inner red flags in future relationships, and to not count my chickens before they hatched – I made sure to have “where are we” discussions on a regular basis in my next relationship instead of assuming we were on the same page.

Most of all, I learned that time really does heal all wounds – best of luck to you as you nurse yours!

Young says:

@LMM- Yay! Good to hear that time heals all wounds. As cliche as it sounds…! I am appreciative that I’m not the only one who is going through the same thing. The more I think about it, the more I realize I was contorting myself to be someone different, someone that he would like at times. He did not respect my intellect and I will find someone who does.

Cathartic and honest indeed….

Sorry it didn’t work out….but life has a way of working itself out….the way it should.

I’ve been both broken and have done the breaking in my relationships. Neither is fun or easy and it takes time to get through them.

You have no marriage or kids involved, which dare I say it would be much more difficult to deal with even though things suck right now.

Good on you to be honest with yourself and knowing what you need. His loss for not wanting to share your journey.

Stay positive. Life has so many opportunities.

Here’s to many new things in a brand New Year 🙂


Young says:

@MOA- Thanks Mark 🙂 Bring it on, 2013!


Each and everyone of us received, is going through or will go through a curveball. There’s just no escape, this is part of the game. We always think others are living a picture perfect happy life, can’t be farther from the truth!

Try to look at the positive side of the outcome, you’re lucky there are no kids involved and you’re still young with plenty of opportunities in front of you.

Here’s to a better 2013….


Young says:

@BTI- Yes, you are so right. My friends thought I was living the perfect ideallic dream. Homeowner in Vancouver, long term relationship… nothing could be further from the truth! Heck, I thought I was living the ideallic dream LOL.

Liquid says:

Thanks for sharing your experience. Must be really hard since you’ve been together for so long. His loss for not wanting to grow up. Hope you don’t have to sell the house or anything. With my ex-girlfriend, I’ve learned that money is very important in a relationship. If a couple cannot agree on how to run their finances together, there will be problems.

Young says:

@Liquid- There are a lot of Peter Pans in Vancouver unfortunately!! 🙁 You’re right- agreeing on money is very important. He had expensive brand name taste whereas I wasn’t really into all that.

Shy says:

Thank you so much for sharing. This must be a very challenging time and it is amazing that you have the courage to share this piece with your readers. It is wonderful that you are taking care of yourself. Wishing you the best for 2013.

Personally, I have found myself falling prey to many of the things you listed above – especially the forgoing fun (ie weekend trip, dinners out, hanging out with friends) for saving money.

A post on deciding factors for cohabitation and the decision to purchase property together would be a very useful read as well. My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years and these are some things we have been considering.

Young says:

@Shy- Thanks Shy 🙂 I would recommend (and this is my unsolicited 2 cents LOL) that if you are thinking about purchasing property together, make sure there is committment/ or some sort of time line agreed I guess. If you’re not the type of woman to go batty waiting for commitment, then I think you should be fine.

Cassie says:

Oh geez, I’m so sorry to hear about this 🙁 Honestly, I totally respect your choice to move on. I agree with you that if he wasn’t sure if you were the one after 7 years of dating, then waiting a few more years wasn’t going to prove anything. It just sucks that it turned out the way it did.

The last time I broke up one of the biggest things I took away from it is that I tend to hold on for far too long, and I allow others to do the same when I don’t want them to. It’s a massive drag emotionally, and it runs out into other areas of my life. You seem to be taking an analytical approach to this, which I hope will benefit you in the long run.

Young says:

@Cassie- I was like holding on with white knuckles but totally didn’t realize it. My friends told me he wasn’t good for me numerous times but didn’t listen. Hindsight is 20/20 as always, eh?

Leigh says:

Young, I’m so sorry to hear this. I, too, had a relationship end because the guy didn’t know what he wanted. (I was also on that end…darned college!) I ruled out a guy on a second date because he wanted a nice car, no hard feelings, and went for the guy with the 2002 Honda instead 🙂

I think I’ve gotten jaded with age…I don’t know if this was your first relationship, but I’m guessing it was your longest one. I love differently now than I did then. I’m less likely to assume that things will work out. I’m more rational on dates. I have a better list of questions to ask guys on dates so I don’t waste their time for too long. Values are so hard to find though…what if you don’t know your own? And you can’t just interview guys on dates!!! That’s so hard. As for the same age thing, I’ve been on a few dates with guys ~30 (so almost 10 years older than me at the time) and that went so much better than many dates with guys my age.

What are you guys doing with the house? Or is that another post?

P.S. I’m here for you if you ever need to talk. Oh, and I have plenty of single, male, software developer friends 😉 sending lots of virtual hugs your way, girl!!!

Young says:

@Leigh- Haha, awesome! Dating is very therapeutic for relationship break ups I think! It really helps you realize what you want and what your priorities are.

This is definitely the longest one but it is not the first relationship. This was the most emotionally invested relationship I had though. I loved him so much and wanted it to work out but sometimes things don’t work out. Haha, I think if you can find someone who doesn’t mind you being rational, cautious, and interviewing the heck out of them they are probably a keeper!

What’s happening with the house may be another post 😉

PS lol thank you for the offer re: single male software developer friends!! lol

Squirrelers says:

Very introspective post, thanks for sharing.

From my experience, I think it’s great to look back and really try to learn about how things played out, and: 1) what role we individually played in things, and 2) what new things we learned about how relationships work. It seems like you’re doing both, which is great. Congrats on that.

Two things jump out at me, from what you said:

1) Taking care of ourselves. Yes, we truly need to take care of our own needs and well being. If a relationship drains us of this, consider it a red flag. I learned this too.

2) Mothering/controlling. Agreed, that doesn’t work with most people. Both men and women are adults and not children, but they’re just wired differently. And take care of each other in different ways sometimes. I learned this, from the perspective of not wanting to be controlled 🙂

Anyway, great post.

Young says:

@Squirrelers- Sometimes I go back and forth. Sometimes I am more introspective and aware and sometimes I want to slash his tires because I am angry (hahah but I don’t don’t worry! lol). Thank you for your comments!

Y&T, I’m sorry things didn’t work out. You sounds like the perfect catch actually!

Better now, than after marriage right?

New year, new start, new love!

Don’t forget to let me know when you come down to SF. Maybe I can introduce you to someone 🙂


Young says:

@FS- Haha thanks Sam, I’m glad some people think so!! 🙂 Yes, better now than after marriage and after children!